Mouth Breathing Children

As well as letting in a lot more dust, pollen and other rubbish into the lungs, breathing through the mouth can cause all kinds of physical problems to the growing child.

If your child has become a habitual mouth-breather, you can reasonably expect some of the following things to happen:

  • The tongue acts like a natural tooth retainer when the mouth is closed, gently pushing the top teeth into their correct position. When the mouth is open, the tongue rests on the floor of the mouth instead of the roof, and when this is done continuously the upper jaw narrows, forcing the teeth to grow in a forward position or to overlap each other. This can lead to the need for braces to correct the bite.
  • Mouth breathing dries out saliva, which is important for the health of teeth and gums as well as for initiating the digestive process. If the mouth does not have enough of the protective saliva, then the teeth and gums are prone to decay and infection.
  • Breathing through the mouth bypasses the filtering of germs, pollen and other pollutants that occurs when breathing through the nose. The nose also warms and moistens the air, making it perfect for the delicate and pristine lung tissue.
  • Because the head has to tilt back slightly and the torso slumps in the middle to balance the dropped jaw, mouth breathing can lead to a sore neck, shoulders or jaw due to the poor posture.
  • The poor posture makes swallowing more difficult instead of a smooth process.
  • Breathing through your mouth generally increases the volume of air that is breathes and this generally leads to a blocked nose and the statement, 'I have to breathe through my mouth because my nose is always blocked.'

My child's nose is always blocked

Some bodily functions only seem to work well when you use them, and breathing through the nose is no exception. Usually the nose will stay clear if you breathe through it, but the more that you breathe through your mouth, the more blocked the nose will become.

The Buteyko Breathing Techniques have been proven in clinical trials to greatly improve asthma control, and the first exercise taught in these courses is a simple one that was developed by Russian doctor, Konstantin Buteyko to help clear a blocked nose:

  • Sit in a chair
  • After a normal exhalation, close the mouth if it is open.
  • Before inhaling again, pinch the nostrils closed with the fingers of one hand and gently nod the head until you get an urge to breathe.
  • Keep the mouth closed, and remove the hand from the nose.
  • Breathe softly and gently through the nose

If the nose is not clear enough to easily breathe through, then repeat up to four times.

Once your child is able to breathe through their nose, talk about how natural and important this is. When you observe animals that have the closest resemblance to humans, you will notice that they always breathe through their nose. Even animals that have no resemblance, such as horses and deer always breathe through their nose, and these animals are famous for their speed.

So get your child to run like a deer, or to 'smell the flowers', so they become accustomed to use their nose for the purpose that it was intended. Teach them that if they breathe through their mouth as much as they eat through their nose, they will be on the right path for good health. If you cannot do this, then find your local Buteyko practitioner to have them teach your child how to breathe properly. It is the most important function of the entire body that underpins every other function.